Nebraska’s arduous Big Ten football schedule could make for some rugged fall Saturdays.
But that schedule also can be viewed as a positive when it comes to recruiting.
Husker defensive coordinator Erik Chinander and secondary coach Travis Fisher stressed that viewpoint earlier this week during the Husker Nation Tour.
“When Travis sits down with a kid, and I’m in the room, too, and he tells the kid we’re going to play the second-hardest schedule in the country and the kid’s eyes light up — I want that guy,” Chinander said. “At a place like Nebraska, you’ve got to be careful recruiting. There are a lot of guys who say, ‘Yes, I want to be a Husker.’ But you’ve got to be careful who you let say ‘yes.’
“You better find the right ones, and it better not be just looking at a list and seeing who has the most stars by their name. You better find out who a kid is.”
Getting to know prospects could be a benefit for Nebraska coaches as the staff plays host to its first Friday Night Lights camp on Friday at Memorial Stadium. Another FNL camp will be June 22, with both events taking place from approximately 6 to 8 p.m. The camps are free to the public.
According to 247Sports, the first FNL likely will be heavy on players who perhaps are on the fringe of being offered scholarships. The staff may study certain prospects closely and decide if it’s ready to move forward in the recruiting process.
Fisher has certain qualities in mind as he sizes up prospects. For instance, he wants players who play hard in the name of family pride.
“Some kids want to go play for a logo, and some kids want to go play for their last name,” he said. “I’m searching for the kid who’s going to play for that last name. Yeah, you want to put a Nebraska jersey on. But what happens when I give you that jersey? You might shut it down, think you’ve already made it.
“But some kids play for that last name. They’re going to go out there and play hard no matter what. No matter what, they love football, hate embarrassment, want to picture themselves making the game-winning play in the big game against Ohio State.
“I was that kid. So I can just imagine recruiting kids like that.”
Fisher was indeed a heavily-recruited high school star in Tallahassee, Florida, before attending Central Florida from 1999-2001. He then enjoyed a nine-year NFL career as a cornerback.
Nowadays, he uses Nebraska’s difficult schedule as an advantage in recruiting, keeping his days as a prospect in mind.
“That’s one of the reasons why I chose to go to a school that was an independent (at the time) instead of the SEC,” Fisher said. “We were playing everybody. Great teams all the time. That’s what I wanted. I was considered the top corner in the country coming out (of high school), and I wanted to play against the top guys.
“I just think that’s important for a kid. Nobody wants to go out and play against (lesser competition). If you want to be the best, you want to play against the best.”
Chinander ultimately wants to assemble a group of players who possess the sort of mindset he experienced the last two seasons at UCF.
“They didn’t care if we rolled out the ball in the parking lot and told them the New York Giants were getting off the bus,” the coach said. “They were going to play, and they were going to win.”
Chinander and the rest of the Husker staff will coach up several prospects Friday night. One of them could be class of 2020 prospect Zavier Betts of Bellevue West, a four-star receiver who is expected to be on hand.
“We just want to recruit guys who love the game, more than you recruit guys who are interested a whole lot in social media, or those kids who act like they’re interested but really are more interested in an offer so they can get their stars up,” Fisher said. “Just from my experience, it doesn’t take a five-star kid to be successful at the DB position. It just takes a kid who loves to compete, especially at the DB position.”